Snow Leopards are classed as a Vulnerable species with an estimated wild population of between 3,000 and 6,000 cats remaining.
Their wild range stretches through the mountains of central Asia.
Threats in the Wild
One of the major threats towards wild populations is poaching. The trade of snow leopards happens in the dark so it is difficult to know exactly what numbers are traded but between 2008 & 2016 it is estimated that between 220-450 cats per year were killed, an average of 1 cat every day.
Their main food sources, the wild sheep and goats, are also threatened by illegal or unsustainable hunting in many parts of the Snow Leopard range. If the prey decline, so does the Snow Leopard population.
As more land is used for livestock purposes, more domestic farm stock make their way into snow leopard habitat where the cats may occasionally prey on them. The herders will then seek to persecute the snow leopard as the loss of livestock is catastrophic to their income.
There is also the threat of habitat destruction through the mining industry.
Updates from the field
Snow Leopard Trust
The Snow Leopard Trust finds ways for snow leopards to co-exist with the people who share their habitats. They do this through various different routes.
Educating local people on the snow leopard and inspiring the next generation of snow leopard protectors
Providing local herder families with vaccinations as in some communities up to five times more livestock is lost to disease rather than predation
Working with the Kyrgyz government to train law enforcement, rangers and local communities to fight against poachers
The Trust's insurance programme helps rural communities reduce the financial impact of snow leopard predation by giving them compensation
Livestock Predation Prevention
Helping local communities build taller stock fencing to surround their livestock and protect them from predators
Snow Leopard Enterprises
Conservation-focused range of handicrafts that are creating sustainable economic opportunities for families to make money and reduce the motivation for poaching.
At Northumberland Zoo
Northumberland Zoo contribute financially towards the Long-term range study currently taking place in Asia where they are trying to map out snow leopard territories, use camera-traps to identify individuals & their interactions with other species.
Northumberland Zoo is home to two snow leopards - sisters Karli & Nieva. They were born in August 2020 at Highland Wildlife Park. Although we are not breeding from these girls, they act as Animal Ambassadors for their species.
They are the only Snow Leopards kept in the North of England, providing an amazing opportunity to educate and inspire people in this area about their plight and help to raise money towards their conservation in the wild.
Alternatively, if you would like to make a donation to help us with our conservation aims, you can donate here.